Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wet and Wild

You'd never guess it, but you can get some really beautiful, fresh fruit in China. A friend of mine lives near a wet market, one block north of Hongqiao Lu on Jianhe Lu, that she's been telling me about since we moved here. I finally got around to checking it out over Chinese New Year, and you know what? It actually made me wish I cooked more often.
Here's the entrance from Jianhe Lu. There's an aisle on the left, which actually goes down the middle, and has mostly vegetables, and the one on the right there has fruits, at least here at the front. To the far left is....
...less palatable things. I'm not entirely sure how the Chinese can eat stuff that looks like this, because these meats look totally inedible to me. These look inedible to me, as well, but other people might like fresh shrimp.
Or fish. I've been to a fish market or two in my time, and I have to say, there was less of a fish smell here than any I've ever visited before.
You can get real meat here, too, with the butcher on hand to cut it down to size for you, and I've gotta say, it looks pretty tasty.
There's also just about every kind of egg you could want, freshly laid (either that, or the chickens in the storefront behind me were for those looking for VERY fresh meat).
They've got tofu (which is - are you ready for this - "doufu" if you need to ask for it in Mandarin)...
And freshly made noodles, too.
Here are some of the vegetables:
Do you know the mushroom man?
And this is my fruit seller. Note the beautiful avocados. I probably overpaid her, at 8 kuai each, but $4 for three avocados wasn't half bad, especially since another one of the stalls sold me some cilantro - it was a fresh guacamole weekend for me!
On the fruit side there are also shops selling spices and beans and nuts. I haven't seen a selection like this since leaving the middle east.
There's even more to this market - along the outside edge, you can get everything from a health check to a haircut, kitchen utensils or wellies. But the best of all is outside. If, after all that shopping, you are too exhausted to cook, you can stop for dinner at Nino's, an authentic hole-in-the-wall pizzeria run by an Italian expat. The food is cheap, good, and best of all, Nino's Chinese wife speaks English with an Italian accent, bringing on one of those fabulously surreal moments when you're no longer sure WHAT country you're in.

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